COLUMBUS — With fall camp set to begin on Friday, Ohio State has elected seven captains to lead the Buckeyes into the 2020 season.
The captains were announced on Tuesday after being voted on by their teammates.
The group is highlighted by senior linebacker Tuf Borland, who is now only the second player to have ever been named a three-time captain at Ohio State, joining former quarterback J.T. Barrett on the shortlist. Defensive end Jonathon Cooper joins Borland as the only returning captains from last year’s Big Ten champions and College Football Playoff participants.
Along with Borland and Cooper, defensive back Shaun Wade and linebacker Justin Hilliard were also named as defensive captains. Offensively, quarterback Justin Fields and offensive linemen Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis join a prestigious history.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day announced that C.J. Saunders, who was a captain last season and had been awaiting a ruling on a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, was informed he would not receive an additional year, ending his playing career in Columbus. Day said Saunders has “coaching in his blood” and will remain with the program in some sort of capacity this season.
Following the announcement from Ohio State, the seven captains were made available to speak with the media via conference call.
“It’s very humbling,” Borland said of being named a three-time captain. “I’m honored to be with a guy like J.T. (Barrett), who was an unbelievable leader here for many years. There’s a huge responsibility that comes with that, and in a sense, all eyes are on you every day. So, you have to attack it with great energy, a great demeanor, the way that you work, because everyone will be watching.”
“It’s just a blessing, really,” Fields said of being elected a captain. “All that I’ve been through the past couple of years, from going to Georgia to coming here, getting introduced to new teammates. All of my teammates welcomed me here. It’s just been a blessing, and I know how big of a deal it is to be selected as a captain by my teammates, here at a place like Ohio State. It’s something that I will be forever grateful for.”
Davis said being a captain brings on a different set of expectations, although he felt like even last year, he was still trying to be a leader along the offensive line.
“Now, we have to expand our leadership larger than just the offensive line, to the whole team,” Davis said. “With being a captain at Ohio State comes great responsibility, and the expectations of always doing things right is at an all-time high.”
Myers echoed Davis’ sentiment that their leadership has to extend past the offensive line unit, adding that he felt both have been doing just that dating back to the latter part of the 2019 season.
Hilliard’s journey to becoming a captain has been long and painful, with a run of season-ending injuries costing him most of his career at Ohio State. After returning to the field late last season, Hilliard has remained healthy this offseason, and he appears ready to finally make an impact from the jump whenever the Buckeyes take the field this fall.
Regardless of how the final chapter plays out for Hilliard, he said he’s still very much enjoyed his Ohio State career, especially as it culminates with such a special honor.
“Sometimes I just have to sit back and reflect on some of the hurdles I’ve had to overcome over the years,” Hilliard said. “But honestly, I think a lot of people had this view of me that I’m just here feeling sorry for myself for all the terrible things that have happened to me. But these past five years … have been awesome for me. I’ve had the time of my life. It just means so much to (all captains).”